On View: September 18 - November 30, 2019
Reception: Thursday, October 3, 5-7PM
109ish Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210 (Near Seaport Common)

Mock is a public installation in Boston’s seaport neighborhood, taking the form of a “full scale mock up” and shifting it to a three decker. Through a collection of archival and contemporary images, handmade wallpaper, and an updated redlining map reflecting the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy — the piece is an investigation into the history of workforce housing and how it fits into the city’s development, past and present.

A full-scale mockup is an architectural device that allows designers and contractors to review materials before construction on a project starts, these life-size models offer a glimpse of what’s to come. As they become more ubiquitous in Boston, they become more ominous in nature—monoliths of the approaching wealth and power that is out of reach for many residents. Nowhere are these structures more common than in the Seaport — Boston’s largest concentrated development since the urban renewal projects that destroyed poor communities in the ’60s and ’70s. 

The three decker is a unique symbol of Boston and its diverse neighborhoods, a lasting reminder of when housing was developed from the bottom up. In the late 1800s, as the city experienced industrialization, urbanization, and a population boom with massive immigration, the three decker provided an easy way to house these communities. Rural outer neighborhoods provided a blank canvas for large concentrations of new homes, and created affordable paths to ownership, by keeping rents low, fostering mobility, and allowing families to build generational wealth. Anti-immigration and racist backlash grew at the turn of the 1900s, and wealthy housing reformers worked to ban the construction of three deckers, and advocated for public housing as an alternative to house the poor. Part of a legacy of racist and anti-poor housing policy, the consequences of these actions helped build the framework of Boston’s current housing crisis.

Nearly a century later, the Seaport provided Boston a blank canvas, and an opportunity to address these problems.


Included Images:

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection:
Laundry on lines behind triple deckers. ca. 1930
Fan Yard Pier, Northern Avenue, South Boston. Shows fireboat, bridge tender's house, Commonwealth Piers 2 through 5. ca. 1926

From the La Alianza Hispana Records, courtesy of Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections:
Abandoned cars, trash, and debris in a lot in front of residential buildings in Roxbury, Mass. 1965
African American man and a stray dog standing outside an apartment building in disrepair on Oakborn Avenue, Roxbury, Mass. 1965

From the City of Boston Public Works Department:
38 & 40 Boston Street. 1898

From the Boston Pictorial Archive at the Boston Public Library
#10 Gustin St. - S. Boston. Release for demolition signed. 1935
A South-East View of the City of Boston in North America. John Carwitham, 1898

All other materials courtesy of the artist

This piece was created with the support of the Now + There Public Art Accelerator